I love going to DemoCamp, it is one of my favourite recurring events in Guelph and one of my two favourite tech events locally. I am a big supporter of the technology industry in Guelph even though I’m only in the soft side of technology as a content creator. Guelph has such a unique culture around it, combining science with arts in almost everything it does, as witnessed with the marriage of DemoCamp and live music right after. Because of the strong artistic influence everywhere in Guelph I think our technology field is infinitely more creative and innovative than many other cities.

DemoCamp is an interesting event where the smart minds behind technological solutions get to stand in front of a crowd and see if it is viable, a crowd that is uniquely sympathetic yet incredibly unrelenting. It’s a great way to meet new people and find some interesting tools that maybe need a helping hand to get out of beta.

But here’s the problem with DemoCamp as I see it, and as many people I’ve spoken with see it; for every 10 or 15 men in the audience there is only 1 woman. This does not bode well for anyone. Especially not for the people demoing their product since the reality is there might be more than 10 women using their product. Wouldn’t it be great to know if your idea works with both genders? Wouldn’t it be great to meet people who can help you push your idea further and introduce you to the people you need to know? Isn’t it likely that if half of the population isn’t represented that means all of these innovative people with great ideas are missing out on meeting half of the people they need to be successful.

Sorry, I misspoke. The problem isn’t with DemoCamp, it’s with women choosing not to come out. So how do we get more women in the audience at DemoCamp? And how do we get more women on stage demoing their products?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I hope that by being more visible at DemoCamp, by acting as a judge, that the rest of the audience will see me and encourage more women to come out, to let their friends and co-workers know that DemoCamp IS a place where women hang out.

And I’m not alone. I’ve got 3 other women with me who are stepping up to be more visible.
Christina Moulton, iPhone app developer and principal with Teak Mobile Inc, Valerie Lalonde, community manager with Innosphere SDG Ltd, and Dawn Smith, digital marketing specialist with Desire2Learn

In their words –

Christina – https://twitter.com/ChristinaMltnchristina

I go to DemoCamp because it’s always interesting to see what different people have been working on, whether they’re startups looking for feedback on early products or just really neat hobby projects. It’s always a friendly crowd enthusiastic to chat about tech. I always seem to meet someone who’s working in tech but in a way I’d never have thought of, like making music & sound effects for video games. I’ve done a demo and found it a welcoming space with relevant, practical feedback and lots of great follow up conversations.

Tech has been an opportunity for me to carve out a career that fits what I want from my life. While I’m always happy to see anyone demo, it’s especially nice to see women in an area that offers opportunities for having more control over their time. Plus it’s so rewarding to actually build and show off your projects. I don’t think women get a lot of chances to build things and get acknowledged for it.

valerieValerie – https://twitter.com/Valerie_Lalonde

I believe it’s important that women find their passion whether it is in a female dominate work setting like fashion, office administration or early childhood education, or if it’s on the opposite side of the spectrum in a male dominated industry like construction, technology or science. It’s important that expectations and stereotypes in society don’t mold young women into a role and/or deter them from finding that special talent that will drive them into success.

Once they’ve found their passion they shouldn’t be afraid of crashing the old boys club; the group will be so happy to have you there! Embrace what you know, soak up what you don’t & impress all of the other attendees with your knowledge. It’s important that women attend these events to advance their career. Events like Democamp allow you to meet alike individuals, learn related skills and get feedback or tips from experts in the field. Networking is the key! Don’t let the guys continue to get ahead, break your way into the groups and you’ll be happy you did; especially when it becomes time to look for a job or find  a partner for a project you’re working on. The tech community in a city like Guelph is small, so become a part of it and start making those connections!

dawnDawn – https://twitter.com/saffyre9

Why do I go? Initially I went for networking with like-minded people. Now, I like going to support the community, support local start-ups, and of course more networking 🙂

Why is it important for women to be there? Honestly, it’s not about quotas or percentages or minimum representation. To me, if you want to be in the tech space, and are serious about tech, then you need to be at the events that are relevant, regardless of your gender.

And I say this having once been the only female in attendance at a Democamp Guelph 🙂

Come on ladies! There’s nobody at the door saying you aren’t allowed in, so come out to DemoCamp tonight and have a great night with us!